No one’s doubting the power of a good customer testimonial. They’re among the most trusted forms of advertising your business can offer; they cost nothing on your part, and customers who write them for you are all the more likely to remain loyal to your business for having done so.

Of course, what makes testimonials so powerful is the fact that they’re written by people who have no financial stake whatsoever in your business. And the lack of bias that presumes is refreshing. It’s why we all turn to platforms like Yelp or read online reviews before we head to that restaurant for lunch or purchase that next gadget.

But what about the testimonials on your company’s website?

Those testimonials are only going to serve you if they meet certain criteria and are skillfully placed on your site. If they do and are, they’ll make a world of difference to your site’s conversions.

How to Boost Conversions With Website Testimonials

Here’s how to make that happen:

1. Know What Makes a Good Testimonial

Stellar testimonials contain these four essential elements:

  • They offer specifics (think numbers, percentages, pain points, benefits, and outcomes).
  • They use those details to tell a before-and-after story (“Thanks to Karen, we saw a 35% increase in revenue this year”; “After six months of working with Jabir, I’m no longer taking pain medications”).
  • They raise and then dispel objections (“We had concerns about employee training, but the system took virtually no time to implement”).
  • They look and sound authentic (i.e. they’re accompanied by the writer’s name, company, title, Gravatar, and social media handles).

2. Know Where to Look

It’s possible that some of the best “testimonials” you can offer didn’t begin as testimonials at all. Rather, they’re embedded in the correspondence you’ve had with customers over the years, or they’re scattered across the web. So it’s time to shift your assumption that a testimonial is only a testimonial if the writer intended it to be one.

Search your inbox for emails from your most loyal customers, or from those who benefit the most from your business. Did they write about their transformation or their experience of your product or service? If so, extract those lines, write to your customer, and ask permission to use them.

There’s likely also a breadcrumb trail of testimonial material in comments customers have left on your company blog, on their own blogs, on public review sites, and on social media. There are many platforms out there that let you track mentions of your company on the web. Make use of these! Don’t let those exceptional comments about your company linger in the black hole of internet oblivion.

3. Know How to Ask

Once you’ve exhausted your virtual search, it may be time to make an ask. Here’s how:

  • Send an email to your customers asking if they’d be willing to plug your business on a review site. Include links to those sites, and offer an example or two of a stellar testimonial. This gives customers a sense of what you’re looking for; but it also shows that others have already written for you. Customers will be all the more likely to jump on the review bandwagon thanks to this form of social proof.
  • Put your customer satisfaction survey to a dual use. You’re already using one, right? Insert a checkbox into the survey that clients can check if they’re willing to have you excerpt their responses for testimonials.
  • Ask your most longstanding customers if they’d write you “a testimonial.” There’s a perception that writing a testimonial is more labor-intensive than writing a review; so you may want to save this word for the customers you know are willing to put that kind of work in. Your long-term customers may even be willing to make a video testimonial for you. Gauge your ask based on the strength of your relationship.
  • Give visitors the opportunity to submit a testimonial on your website. This could be as simple as placing a link on your homepage that says “How are we doing?” and leads to a submission form. Again, place an exemplary testimonial near that link: It sets the bar; it serves as social proof; and it makes that testimonial more believable.
  • Initiate a “testimonial swap” with a business tangential to yours. This will be a business you’re already in a relationship of some kind with (perhaps you’re cross-referring clients, for example); so you know that business’ strengths, values, and accomplishments — and they know yours.

4. Know What to Ask

Remember the elements of a good testimonial: You’ll want to pose questions that ensure customers are giving you numbers, details, initial doubts, and narratives. Otherwise, you’ll get a handful of testimonials about how “awesome” you are — and you probably are! — but nothing of substance to show your prospects. Questions bound to produce strong testimonials include:

  • Did you have any hesitations about our offering; and what happened to those hesitations after you used our product or hired our service?
  • What was the nature of the problem you had when you contacted our company; and how was that problem ultimately solved for you?
  • What feature or benefit of our offering made you choose us above the competition? Had you tried other solutions before us?
  • What specific outcomes or improvements have you experienced as a result of our product or service?

You get the picture. Pose your questions so that customers have no choice but to offer you the juicy details in response.

5. Strive for Variety

You’ve been on the internet long enough to know that prospects will be more compelled by moving images than they will by consecutive blocks of testimonial text. So give them some eye candy.

Video testimonials do wonders for conversions; so do images of any kind. Offer before-and-after shots of transformations you’ve actualized for your clients. Show your customers in their natural habitat, as they benefit from your product. Include company logos, audio, graphs, and graphics. Keep asking the question: How can I make the experience of consuming testimonials enjoyable for my prospect?

This is your think-outside-the-box moment. Have at it.

6. Keep a Dedicated Testimonials Page on your Site

This strategy will be particularly valuable if your product or service requires a heavy financial investment on your prospects’ parts. The more assurance your prospects will need, the more social proof you should have ready for them.

Consider offering a sorting feature so users can quickly locate the testimonials they’ll most resonate with. Include a CTA and an unmissable link to your product page or landing page. Remember, prospects may be clicking into your testimonials page for that last bit of positive reassurance. Many of them might make the decision to purchase while on that page. Don’t make it difficult for them to do so.

7. Place Testimonials at Friction Points

A friction point is any place on your website where a prospect is likely to feel resistant to converting. This means all CTA buttons. (Every call to action asks users to make the switch from passive consumers of information to active responders; resistance is strong there.) This also means your pricing page, your checkout page… and any page that involves a form.

Reminding prospects about the benefits of your offering at precisely these sites of resistance ultimately means less resistance.

8. Use Design to Draw Users’ Eyes to your Testimonials

What this means for your testimonials page is that you should give each testimonial the royal treatment it deserves. Use whitespace, images, or graphics to separate testimonials from each other, so that each has its own pride of place. No matter how good the praise is, no one is going to skim through a mass of continuous text to find the testimonials most relevant to them.

For those testimonials dispersed elsewhere on your site? The same rules apply. Whitespace, color, or surrounding images will draw visitors’ eyes to exactly the text you want them to see.

After all, a testimonial can only convert once it’s been seen and read.